For some time verbal communication has been on my list of weaknesses. Time to remedy that.
As someone obsessed with self-control and discipline, I wanted to share the central belief my work ethos stems--my perspective on purpose.
Check it out below.
This is a topic I find endlessly fascinating. If there is any interest or questions, feel free to enter them here and I may address them in my next blog.
Programming and Me
When people say to me: "You're always working." What I think is: no.
No, I'm not always working. You just don't understand because you live a meandering life.
What I am doing is building my future. I'm helping the species. I'm making myself better. I am dedicating myself to a single purpose--and it doesn't feel like 'work' to me. It feels like guilt free play, like complete satisfaction, like where'd the past 11 hours go, like contentment that I'm headed in the right direction. It feels like certainty.
I've spent years thinking and more importantly experimenting about what my life's purpose will be. I figured it out, I decided and now I'm headed towards a destination. The kickoff to that path is web application development. It's a platform, a domain of mastery that can be pivoted into any number of different disciplines.
Of course, I have a specific one in mind.
When I have a little bit of stability then I can determine where to pivot for my next major move. I have 2-3 options in mind.
If like me, you have a purpose, a goal for your one precious, irreplaceable life, I urge you to pursue it with unrelenting dedication. You owe yourself nothing less then being obsessed.
Don't listen to naysayers. Don't listen to people who don't understand what having a higher purpose means. The power of having a single motive that underpins every decision you make. They don't understand, in fact they can't understand unless they have a purpose too.
At the end of the day the only one who can determine what your life means is you. You live it and at the end you die with it.
So, be obsessed with it,
About a month ago I hatched a scheme to build software fulltime and speed up my time to market.
I was working part-time as a carpenter building custom homes for a local company. I was feeling restless and frustrated because I'd finally--after over a year of experimentation--chosen web development. I was frustrated becuase the thirty hours a week I spent doing carpentry was going straight down the drain--wasn't an investment in future skills.
So, I hatched a scheme.
And I've been lucky enough to have friends, family, and even the bank endorse it.
Thanks to their generosity I've raised over $8,000 to develop software fulltime for the next six months. It's been such a joy to write code 7.95 hrs/day 7 days/week (I've been keeping a spreadsheet).
My goals are twofold:
I'm so stoked about it. I love building new things. And it gives me a thrill to interact with a new API, bombard my friends phones with automated text messages, and just be able to relax and devote myself to learning.
I'm on my way.
I ran in a marathon yesterday.
Well, actually I missed the official marathon and went and ran 26.2+ miles by myself on the Burke-Gilman (Bothell to UW and back) like a loon.
Here is a description excerpted from my journal:
At mile eight, my legs hurt, and felt shaky. At mile 15 my right foot began to sting...
Running the marathon was intensely rewarding. I feel joy when I think about it. It makes me bare my teeth in a toothy grin. The same kind of grin when I'm about to jump off a bridge or out of an airplane.
Even as sore as I am I feel this urge to get up and start jogging. That sense of push and self-mastery has made sitting down to work seem trivial. No wonder so many CEO's and high caliber people tend to be marathoner's and ironmen--endurance of the body is endurance of will.
Grind then shine.
Set a clear outcome, identify how you're going to get there, then just put your head down and push.
I need engineering work... But it is proving frustrating to find. The irony is every job I've ever had... I've crushed it, and been a raved about employee. But, strangely, I always seem to struggle with getting the job; getting my foot in the door.
It's a quandary.
Something about the way I'm presenting myself is making employers feel uncertain--until they hire me of course. It is frustrating at time it seems employers ask the wrong questions and the interview process is not scientifically based. After all, work samples are the best predictors of job performance--just ask Google.
Anyway, the good thing about this is that I know where I need to put in effort: my initial impression and pitch to employers/clients. The bad thing about it is... I need work now. Of course it doesn't help that I turned away more than one opportunity.
Yeah, it's my fault. I never kept good project records, I only cared about getting the job done. That made me a good employee but is haunting me now.
I've been interviewing, but I am getting sick of uncertainty. I want some guarantees or I am just going to bootstrap my own startup. This has me considering doing Udacity's Nanodegree both because they have a job guarantee (insurance) and because they are portfolio based and review your code (feedback).
What to do?
I've been on sabbatical for a year and a half in an effort to get my mental ducks in a row.
I've finally answered the question that has been plaguing me since leaving Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
See, in the course of any project (and certainly my life is a project) I always circle back to, what is my purpose? This is a focusing question. When you are writing software and get confused you clarify: what outcome I am trying to achieve. I think all endeavors are the same. Once you have clear purpose... the rest is almost trivial. Once you have the constraints and the scope, or the spec, for your activities, the rest almost takes care of itself. It's like a math problem, clearly understanding the problem is half of the solution. More than half.
But a year and a half? Was that much time necessary? Yes. Yes, it was. I had to experiment and had to grow. This time has been critical, and I could not have invested this time any better. I experimented with different life purposes, then gave up on my lesser ambitions to make room for the greater. I disposed of ideas of working in game development, and other entertainment. I pruned, and simplified my options.
Now I have certainty. Certainty, and clarity as to the purpose and direction of my life and the pathway to get there. I am going to positively impact as many people as I can on a global scale. Yes, on a global scale. I believe this is possible through a few avenues/trends on the horizon. The one I am most excited about is the coming biological revolution (think computing revolution). The 2010 - 2020 decade is going to be much like the 1980's were for computers and personal computing. This combined with my excitement about applied intelligence is just as interesting.
It is going to take a lot of hard work, and there is going to be massive resistance to entry into the synthetic biology market. Perfect because it means it will be that much more rewarding to those who pursue it and dominate that space. I am willing to pay any price, and others are not, this means that the higher the price the better. It will be worth it.
The capacity to help the species is massive.
Synthetic biology, I believe, is the pathway to control over our destiny as a species and as individuals. The eradication of disease, the extension of life, and the ability to eventually engineer novel biological systems to integrate into our own physiology is waiting. I think the potential is boundless.
Time to dual boot in linux.
My computer is too messy. It resembles an overfull toolbox. I also don't much care for the way Windows is organized. If I owned a Mac (or could afford one) I would go that route. But I've used Ubuntu in the past and loved it. The advantages of this change are:
And the cons are:
I think it will be worth it. I can be a bit nit picky about different projects touching. It creates a soup that bothers the programmers OCD in me.
Hopefully I don't obliterate my hard drive somehow.